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Plaintiffs, Archdiocese In Priest Abuse Cases Seek Settlement; One Attorney Refuses

Jun 20, 2002 | AP

Attorneys for dozens of people who claim they were molested by priests agreed to suspend their investigations for 30 days and discuss a settlement with the Boston Archdiocese. But a key attorney said Thursday that he would not go along.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 86 people who say they were molested by defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, said Thursday that he had no intention of joining new settlement talks.

He said he plans to ask a judge next month to force the Boston Archdiocese to honor a tentative settlement, worth dlrs 15 million to dlrs 30 million, that the archdiocese had agreed to with his clients but pulled out of in May.

If the request is denied, Garabedian said, he will take the cases to trial.

Patrick McSorley, one of Garabedian's clients, said he was ready for trial. "I'm not going to let them shortchange me for my childhood. No way," he said.

On Wednesday, Donna M. Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the Boston Archdiocese, confirmed that the Archdiocese and lawyers for 275 alleged victims planned to enter preliminary discussions.

That means a deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law that had been scheduled for Thursday will not take place, attorney Roderick MacLeish said.

Other depositions and similar discovery will be postponed for at least 30 days while the lawyers and the archdiocese attempt to set a framework for a settlement, MacLeish said.

The Boston Archdiocese is also under investigation by a grand jury, convened by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly ( news, bio, voting record), which wants to know if Law and his associates failed to keep accused sex abusers away from contact with children.

A law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the grand jury investigation Wednesday.

Legal experts said the probe won't likely result in charges. Reilly said state laws make it difficult to prosecute someone for putting another person in a position to commit a crime. Also, for some of the offenses, the statute of limitations has run out.

Morrissey said, "We respect the right of the attorney general to pursue the investigation with any means that are appropriate."

Elsewhere in the United States, the Los Angeles Archdiocese is creating an independent advisory board to review accusations of sexual misconduct brought against its priests, the archdiocese announced. The board will make recommendations directly to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony.

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